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The dictionary defines a patriot as, “One who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests.”
Supports authority? Hooey. An American patriot is one who supports the egalitarian ideals of our country, and is willing to challenge authority every time it devolves into authoritarianism. We see staggering levels of corporate authoritarianism asserting control over us in the Walmart-ification of our economy, Koch-ification of our government, Murdoch-ification of our media, Exxon-ification of our environment, Monsanto-ification of our food supply, and so on.
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Just keeping up with all the assaults on our people’s democratic idealism can sometimes lead to an emotional overload that social commentator Marty Kaplan has dubbed “Informed Citizen Disorder.” Symptoms include an outbreak of hives when you see Fox News and a nagging compulsion to “Flee to the woods!” – which is exactly what plutocratic powers want all dissidents to do.
There is, however, a revitalizing antidote to the tragedy of ICD: Periodic exposure to America’s mavericks and mutts, free thinkers and greed whackers, who refuse to conform to the corporate order. They receive little media or political attention, but these are our nation’s everyday patriots – wholly imbued with a stalwart spirit of fairness and justice. They are underdogs battling big money and power, yet they commonly win.
This populist spirit is flowering today all across our country, from dozens of battles against Big Oil frackers to numerous actions against the unconscionable labor practices of Walmart. Forget the overstuffed, business-as-usual politicians who keep running games on us for the preservation of the status quo. Our true history is not about “The Great Men,” but about the grassroots people. Just as in the original revolution, the democratic future and populist potential of America is in the heads and hands of rebels.
“America’s true history is not about “Great Men,” but about grassroots rebels and movements,” www.hightowerlowdown.org, July, 2013.